Block Party
Wallpaper|April 2018

With bold volumes, functional living and pivoting concrete doors, this multi-family house in Ahmedabad is a cubic feat

Harriet Thorpe

Gujarati practice Matharoo Associates has engineered the traditional Indian concept of joint-family living for the 21st century. Designing a home for the families of two brothers and their ageing parents in Ahmedabad, the architects have found a way to balance family life and family business within one plan, which is defined by a central fissure that brings together spaces for both communal and private activities, like a puzzle.

Instead of puzzle pieces, however, the parts of this house are closer in spirit to tectonic plates. With plenty of gravitas, the cubed façade of chiselled, locally sourced Kandla grey stone rises like a solidly sculpted and impenetrable rock face – yet inside, recessed windows and multiple courtyards filter plenty of light into the house’s core.

The ‘inward-looking’ design of the house protects its inhabitants from the chaos of the outside world and a busy road running close by on the edge of the site. It creates a private interior world, with its own vernacular of natural materials, surfaces and sculptural eccentricities.

Inspired by the clients’ father, a structural engineer with an adventurous spirit, Matharoo Associates challenged some of the house’s functional elements to perform in unexpected ways – starting at the doubleheight front door where seven bands of concrete move and pivot together to open up entry into the house.

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